Concept of decision or choice using a wooden boardwalk in dense forest in Great Dismal SwampOn November 30, 2021, the Fifth Circuit parted ways with the taxpayer friendly decision of the Ninth Circuit that non-willful penalties are capped at $10,000 per FBAR filing instead of the $10,000 per unreported bank account argued by the government. District courts in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Texas had all ruled in the taxpayer’s favor that non-willful penalties were capped at $10,000 per form.  In United States v. Boyd, 991 F.3d 1077 (9th Cir. 2021), the Ninth circuit reversed the district court’s per-account determination and made the per-form cap the law within the 9th Circuit. United States v. Bittner, No. 20-40597 (5th Circuit), was on appeal from a taxpayer friendly decision reducing the $2.7 Million dollar penalty to $50,000 based on a $10,000 per form cap on non-willful FBAR penalties.  Although not guaranteed, it appeared that the momentum was in the taxpayer’s favor for an affirmance of the reduction.  However, the Fifth Circuit reversed the favorable district court decision and held that the “$10,000 penalty cap therefore applies on a per-account, not a per-form basis.” Continue Reading Non-Willful FBAR Penalties Will be Much Higher in the Fifth Circuit

United States Supreme Court Building in Washington DC, USA.The Supreme Court’s recent decision in CIC Services, LLC v. Internal Revenue Service may have significantly expanded taxpayers’ ability to obtain immediate injunctive relief against onerous tax reporting requirement.

The Anti-Injunction Act bars any “suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax.” Civil penalties are usually considered to be “taxes” for purposes of the Anti-Injunction Act. But in CIC Services, the Supreme Court sustained a suit to enjoin the enforcement of IRS Notice 2016–66 which provides that micro-captive insurance arrangements are “listed transactions” which must be disclosed (regardless of the ultimate validity of the transaction) upon pain of a civil monetary penalty under IRC § 6707A – as well as potential criminal sanctions under § 7203 for the willful failure to make a return or supply information required by law or regulation.  The IRS’ problem in CIC Services was that in issuing Notice 2016-66, it had failed to comply with the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) which requires that a rule with the force and effect of law may be issued only after an opportunity for public notice and comment. No public notice, no enforceable rule, the Court held.  The Anti-Injunction Act did not deprive the courts of jurisdiction. Continue Reading Recent Supreme Court Case Provides Possible Pre-Assessment Judicial Review for Onerous Penalties

Audit Envelope Are You Prepared on white paper an yellow envelope holding by human handsWhen a tax return has been selected for office examination, generally the examination of the return will be conducted at the office of the IRS.  Normally a taxpayer will find an office examination has begun when he or she has received a letter or telephone call from the IRS informing him of such examination and that the IRS wants further records and information. Returns selected for office examination present issues which require some analysis and judgment in addition to verification of records. Continue Reading A Guide to Office Audits with the IRS

Wooden drawer is open.

There is a wealth of information available from the IRS that is not generally made available to the public.  Most of this information can be obtained by asking.  This information includes files the IRS assembles about a taxpayer, and various training manuals used by the IRS to train its employees.  In addition to training given to its employees, the IRS, like most professional organizations, conducts continuing education on an annual basis for its various divisions.  Most of the training manuals and annual training materials are available to the practitioner pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Continue Reading Obtaining Information from the IRS

Give and Take Compromise text on paper with pencilMany people end up owing the IRS for many reasons and there are various options to resolve your tax debt.  Some of the options include an offer in compromise, installment agreement, or currently non-collectible status.

What is an Offer in Compromise?

An offer is when a taxpayer and the Internal Revenue Service settle a taxpayer’s tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed. Continue Reading Compromising with the IRS

Hour glass on calendar concept for time slipping away for important appointment date, schedule and deadlineWhat is the Statute of Limitations?

The Internal Revenue Code limits the time in which the government may assess tax. There are two civil statutes of limitations.  The first is the period during which the IRS can assess an additional tax liability (including penalties and interest).  The second is the period during which the IRS can collect a tax that has been assessed.  The criminal statute of limitations is the period during which the IRS can criminally prosecute. Generally, as to tax crimes, the criminal statute of limitations is six years. (Section 6531)

The application of the statute of limitations can be very confusing and individual facts may determine how the statute of limitations is computed. Also, certain actions suspend the statute of limitations. Continue Reading Statute of Limitations in Tax Cases – The Basics

IRS tax auditor man with a stern or mean expressionThere is a general misconception about what the IRS can and cannot do.  Owing money to the IRS is not like owing any other creditor.  The IRS is one of only a few creditors who can seize and sell your home even though state law may prohibit other creditors from doing the same.

Dealing with the IRS can be confusing, time-consuming and risky for someone who is not familiar with IRS procedures.  Most taxpayers are not very successful in handling their own affairs with the IRS.  The primary reason is the procedures of the IRS are extremely complicated, and most taxpayers do not understand how to protect themselves.  In addition, some taxpayers become too emotionally involved which reduces their effectiveness in dealing with the IRS.  However, no taxpayer should be afraid to CHALLENGE THE IRS.  Although most taxpayers have a great fear of the IRS, they know little about how it works and the IRS benefits from this ignorance. Continue Reading The Basics of the IRS and Tax Audits

Tax forms, close up

Once a taxpayer overpays a tax, it is necessary to file a claim for refund before any action can be undertaken to seek a refund of such tax from the government. The purpose of the claim for refund is to place the IRS on notice of an alleged overpayment.  A taxpayer cannot require the IRS to make a credit or refund without filing the claim.  In addition, a claim for refund is a prerequisite for suing in the U.S. District Court or the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.  It also protects the overpayment of taxes if the statute of limitations expires.  Claims for refund take many forms, but most typically are Forms 1040X and 1120X, amended returns for individual and corporate income taxes.  Refund of other taxes requires regular forms which should be marked “amended” and show an overpayment.  The courts have recognized many forms of claims for refund, including informal letters from taxpayers to the IRS.  Form 843 should be used when filing claims for refunds for any taxes other than income taxes.

The preparing and filing of a claim for refund should be handled with care.  Only one taxable period and one type of tax should be set forth on any claim. The claim may cover several different issues for the same taxable period and type of tax.  The claim must be in writing under the penalties of perjury, and each and every ground upon which the taxpayer relies must be set forth in detail, plus sufficient facts to place the IRS on notice as to the taxpayer’s claim.  The claim should demand the dollar amount sought as a refund, plus any other amounts which are legally refundable – including interest.  In addition, the claim must be signed by the person who signed the return or, if a corporate return, by an officer of the corporation.  To file a claim for refund there must have been an overpayment of tax, which could include: Continue Reading Claims for Refund

Safely mailing an application for ballot for 2020 election at a  drive-up mailbox at the US Post OfficeDeadlines are important in legal matters, especially when it relates to tax issues.  There are estimated tax deadlines, tax return filing deadlines, and a host of deadlines if a return is audited and any adjustments are challenged. Once you get to court in a tax dispute – more deadlines. Anytime a taxpayer misses a deadline they usually lose some portion, if not all, of the rights associated with that deadline. Imagine, however, that a taxpayer attempts to meet the deadline by mailing a document that the IRS claims they never received. Continue Reading The Dangers of Improper Mailing to the IRS